Pumping at Work is Hard Work

A customer writes to us…

Hi Breastmates

I think this is a great idea to share baby feeding stories,  there is so much guilt, judgement and passion among mothers about how we choose to feed our babies, and if we just supported each others choices it would make it a lot easier. Plus writing out our stories can be therapeutic and rewarding! This is my story.

My first born a beautiful boy, was breastfed until he was 10 months, I stopped because I had a skin cancer which needed immediate treatment, and though I felt a little guilty I thought 10 months was a good effort and was happy to switch to formula, happily after refusing to drink from a bottle previously he transferred really well and I was happy with the situation after all I had little choice anyway.

My second born a little girl, screamed for her first 2 months, she had reflux and it was extremely stressful and tiring (she’s a lovely chilled out 7 month old now, there is hope!!)  I had to go back to work when she was 3 months old which was heartbreaking. I was fully breastfeeding and now had to decide how to manage to continue this. So I got all the gear and began expressing at work. I had to do it in a changing room, the floor of which was almost coved in shoes, so I’d make a space, try not to breathe too deeply (it didn’t smell too inspiring!) and pump away.

I got every comment you could think of from “well done” to “what a waste of time”, my work mates called me Daisy, I felt guilty about having to disappear for a few minutes leaving my workmates to cope with my absence every 4 hours (I do 10 hour shifts) and was constantly told I’d done enough and should surely stop now, but I was determined I was doing the right thing.

However, it was hard and tiring and my nipples hurt and my supply diminished, it really took it’s toll on me, rushing home to be in time for the next feed to spare myself having to express AGAIN, worrying about my EBM not being stored at the right temperature, worrying my baby wasn’t getting enough and that the quality was poor because between the night feeds and 10 hour shifts I was so so tired, anyway after two months of that I decided to stop.

The guilt was enormous, the feeds I did as I was weaning were heartbreaking and in my head I just kept hearing, “breast is best,” “don’t you want what’s best for your baby?” “Don’t you love your baby?” I really dragged out the weaning process, because I felt like such a quitter and a failure, but I was so tired.

Anyway I did it eventually, my baby was 5 and a half months and I’m glad I did because it was the best thing for me and therefore for my baby. I was diagnosed with post natal depression shortly after, and the antidepressants have made me realise just how low I had been, the pressure to breastfeed can be ridiculous, even my closest friends were telling me to keep going, even though I was miserable.

If I hadn’t had support from my mum and husband I don’t think I would have stopped I would have felt too selfish and guilty, so I would have slogged on getting more and more depressed.

There’s nothing wrong with formula, my little girl is healthy and happy and so am I and that’s what is important, not trying to be supermum!